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Leaky gut syndrome: root cause of autoimmune diseases?

Leaky gut syndrome is an increased permeability of the intestinal lining, in which the intestinal walls act like a sieve and let toxins entering into the bloodstream. This condition can have serious consequences on health.


The small intestine is part of the digestive tube and is located between the stomach and the colon. Its mains functions are:

- finishing digestion

- absorbing nutrients and water

- strengthening the gut barrier to ensure immunity


HOW LEAKY GUT SYNDROME WORKS

The intestinal mucosa is the innermost layer of the small intestine. It is made up of a covering called epithelium, composed of intestinal cells named enterocytes. These intestinal cells (or enterocytes) are attached together by structures called tight junctions. These tight junctions ensure the sealing of the intestinal wall and constitute a protective barrier to prevent harmful molecules from passing into the body.


When there is an alteration and relaxation of tight junctions, the mucosa can no longer properly perform its role as a protective filter. Consequently, the intestinal lining let undesirable molecules entering into the blood and lymph. This is called "Leaky gut syndrome".


Problem: These harmful substances (such as food fragments, germs, virus, bacteria, heavy metals, endocrine disruptors, etc.) are not supposed to pass the intestinal barrier. So they can reach the organs (and possibly alter their functioning), but also affect muscles and joints. The consequence is an immune reaction, cause of many diseases.


INFORMATION: The intestinal mucosa is constantly renewed (as enterocytes have a lifespan of 2 to 6 days)

THE MAIN CAUSE IS DYSBIOSIS

It is important to understand that leaky gut syndrome is the result of an inflammatory process due to the presence of intestinal dysbiosis (alteration of gut flora). Indeed, any dysbiosis generates inflammation. This inflammation leads to the secretion of zonulin, a protein produced by the intestinal mucosa, which is responsible for regulating intestinal permeability. The release of zonulin causes disruption of tight junctions, leading to a leaky gut.


Factors leading to an alteration of gut microbiota (dysbiosis):

  • Industrial and processed food (modern wheat, dairy products, excess sugar, food additives)

  • Nutritional deficiencies (vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc)

  • Stress

  • Intensive sports

  • Excessive consumption of alcohol

  • Medication, antibiotics

  • Toxic substances (smoking, pesticides, pollution, BPA, glyphosate)

  • Chronic constipation

  • And many others!

Thus, several factors can intervene in the alteration of the intestinal mucosa. Here are some good news: if you take care of your microbiota and your intestinal barrier, it is possible to reverse the inflammatory process causing a leaky gut.



CONSEQUENCES OF LEAKY GUT

The direct consequence of leaky gut syndrome is the passage of harmful molecules into the blood. The body is in a situation of chronic inflammation, which triggers a reaction from the immune system.

In the long term, the consequence is the development of diseases (the type will depend on the genetic background). The most known pathologies are autoimmune conditions, inflammatory disorders, chronic illnesses and allergic diseases.


Here are some diseases related to leaky gut:

  • Digestive disorders (diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, loose stools)

  • Irritable bowel, celiac disease

  • Inflammatory and chronic bowel diseases (IBD) (Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis)

  • Autoimmune diseases (Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Graves' disease, rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes, psoriasis, etc)

  • Neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease)

  • Allergies, food intolerances, nutritional deficiencies (iron, vitamin B12)

  • Hormonal imbalances

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Fatigue, depression, anxiety

  • Joint pain, osteoarthritis, arthritis

  • Skin problems (acne, eczema, hives)

  • Asthma

  • Migraines

  • Weight gain

  • Inflammations

Ultimately, leaky gut is the cause of many imbalances. And fortunately, there are natural solutions to support gut health and restore the protective barrier to preserve immunity.


A SHORT DIGRESSION ON AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES

Leaky gut is the common link in autoimmune diseases. Whether it is Hashimoto's disease, Graves' disease, Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, multiple sclerosis, and many other autoimmune conditions!

For autoimmune diseases, the blood passage of endotoxins (components of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria) and/or elements disrupting zonulin (gluten, casein, lectin, saponin, vitamin D deficiency, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) lead to inflammation.

When unhealthy substances cross the barrier, the immune system secretes antibodies, which contribute to immune dysfunctions and ultimately to the development of autoimmune diseases.


It is crucial to support your gut health, as intestines play a major role in immune defense. As a reminder, the glut flora represents 70 to 80% of your immunity.
 

NATURAL SOLUTIONS FOR LEAKY GUT


Within the framework of natural health support, it is important to understand that the key lies in searching the root causes with an individualized approach. So the recommendations offered below are for informational purposes only. It is wiser to be supported by a naturopathic practitioner in order to avoid possible nutritional deficiencies.


The strategy for leaky gut is:

  • Reduce inflammation & oxydative stress

  • Rebuild the gut microbiota

  • Restore the intestinal barrier


Follow an anti-inflammatory diet and avoid food disrupting zonulin

  • Avoid gluten because food high in gluten contain gliadin (a protein that activates zonulin production)

  • Avoid dairy products (because of casein)

  • Eliminate processed food (full of additives) and alcohol

  • Reduce potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants (containing saponins)

  • Reduce red beans, soy, lentils containing lectins (it can be irritating and will reduce the absorption of certain nutrients)

  • Cook with less chili pepper (because the capsaicin contributes to intestinal permeability)

  • Consume lacto-fermented food (kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha)

  • Drink bone broth for collagen

  • Add turmeric to your dishes or herbal teas


Support your gut health & detox your liver

  • Practice a gentle physical activity to stimulate your emunctories and evacuate toxins (avoid running)

  • Include intermittent fasting or a monodiet to your routine

  • Take prebiotics and probiotics

  • Think about vitamin D, zinc & omega-3

  • Reduce intestinal porosity with L-glutamine

  • Add chlorophyll to your drinking water

  • Support gut health and autoimmunity with Walnut buds

  • Read more about Dr. Charrié's green clay cure

  • Get interested in medicinal mushrooms, such as Hericium erinaceus (Lion's Mane)


Manage your stress & balance your nervous system

  • Start your day with meditation

  • Think about breathing exercises such as cardiac coherence

  • Integrate yoga into your sports routine

  • Try foot reflexology

  • Practice sophrology or EFT tapping


And there are so many other natural solutions helping with leaky gut syndrome!


It is important to keep in mind that those recommendations are for informational purposes only. The main goal is to help people suffering from autoimmune, chronic and inflammatory diseases to find natural solutions and improve their lifestyle. If you suffer from any medical condition, the first person to contact is your doctor. Naturopathy is a complementary technique to allopathic medicine (and does not replace it).


Sources & readings:

- Tout ce que vous devez savoir sur les maladies auto-immunes, Dr. Laurent Chevallier

- L'alimentation ou la troisième médecine, Dr. Jean Seignalet

- Leaky Gut and Autoimmunity: An Intricate Balance in Individuals Health and the Diseased State, Bilal Ahmad Paray, Mohammed Fahad Albeshr, Arif Tasleem Jan, Irfan A. Rather

- Gut Microbiota, Leaky Gut, and Autoimmune Diseases, Anna Christovich, Xin M. Luo


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